People might find Thom Browne’s work monotonous, if they look at it superficially. Gray wool suit, pleated skirt, rakish tie – these distinct Browne signatures are always there. However, Browne rarely does the same thing twice. Sure, he has a very stable gray wool core, but each season he delights in trying out an outrageous new silhouette, a clever in-joke, or a cheeky rethink of an American staple. While this women’s collection carries over motifs from Browne’s men’s pre-fall, including lovely jade floral intarsias inspired by his bedroom wallpaper and a fixation with lobsters resulting in an exceptional Shetland wool lobster skirt – he introduced new whimsical proportions here. A cropped puffer was so short and bulbous it almost looked like a mushroom cap atop slender black trousers. Browne has never made a womenswear silhouette that exaggerates the upper body in this abbreviated way before. Elsewhere, khaki shorts do the opposite for a woman’s lower half; they’re cut wide, loose, and sexless enough to look dementedly funny. The signature Browne suit has evolved, as well: The shoulderpads and the canvas are cut out of the brand’s cropped blazer so that it’s as soft and snuggly as a cardigan, constructed from an elegant black-and-white tweed. The check gray skirt suit in look 28 might seem standard, but look closer and Browne is doing something strangely new: here is a single-breasted blazer with a vest long enough to be worn as a dress and a loose, almost shapeless skirt. For a designer with famously strict tailoring, silhouettes that skim the body and waft in the breeze are practically revelatory. Browne says the suit is “the most important look” of the collection, unlocking an idea that will carry to the silhouettes we’ll see in his autumn-winter 2022 outing in a couple of weeks.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.